Place In The Sun- Or, What if Italy Joined The Central Powers in 1915

I don't think the German and their allies will allow a Red state near their border.I'm thinking a strong central power expedition against the Reds similar to OTL coalitions against France during French Revolution with the Reds being France in TTL
True, though if a revolution were to happen, I feel it would be more of a February Revolution-esque scenario (abolishing the monarchy in favor of a democratic republic) rather than its more bloody October variant. Then again, I'm not sure if Germany would be willing to intervene to restore the monarchy (albeit it would most definitely not be Nicky).
 
True, though if a revolution were to happen, I feel it would be more of a February Revolution-esque scenario (abolishing the monarchy in favor of a democratic republic) rather than its more bloody October variant. Then again, I'm not sure if Germany would be willing to intervene to restore the monarchy (albeit it would most definitely not be Nicky).
Why? The English monarchy was already in retreat from political involvement, so it wouldn't be directly blamed. Only way I see them disappear is as unintentional casualty of a bigger revolt.
 
A French communist revolution is highly unlikely. Large agrarian population (no socialist within farmers) and very catholic. Anybody who wants to have a believable socialistic France as Stalin’s USSR would need a lot of PODs.
 
Why? The English monarchy was already in retreat from political involvement, so it wouldn't be directly blamed. Only way I see them disappear is as unintentional casualty of a bigger revolt.
I was never referring to the English monarchy, or even the English government. The comment was aimed more towards the Russians, who would most definitely succumb to such a fate. As would, likely the French, which as above mentioned, would be more of a far-right character, given the Third Republic was largely built on "recovering Alsace-Lorraine by any means."
 
Do you have any plans for Asia ITTL? Lots of interesting PODs and possible butterflies with China in this time period in particular, as well as the future of Japan's relationship with the West (having been on the losing side of the war but most likely gaining territory anyway)

A French communist revolution is highly unlikely. Large agrarian population (no socialist within farmers) and very catholic. Anybody who wants to have a believable socialistic France as Stalin’s USSR would need a lot of PODs.
And the most industrial parts of France are currently under German occupation ITTL (and some will probably be handed to the Flemish puppet state).
 
Yes, I have some fun things planned for TTL's China.
All I'll say is that one of the warlords will come out on top, and that neither Chiang nor Mao will be important ITTL.

France might go communist. Then again, it might not...

And French Flanders will be detached from the mother country by the final peace treaty, yes.

;)
 
Will the Kaiser. And the monarchy be able to maintain his pre ww1 powers after the peace treaty or will the German government slowly turn him and the monarchy into figurehead like OTL British monarchy
 
I was never referring to the English monarchy, or even the English government. The comment was aimed more towards the Russians, who would most definitely succumb to such a fate. As would, likely the French, which as above mentioned, would be more of a far-right character, given the Third Republic was largely built on "recovering Alsace-Lorraine by any means."
I read it over and I must admit you're absolutely right. To my shame I completely misread your post. Please consider my post as not posted.
 
Will the Kaiser. And the monarchy be able to maintain his pre ww1 powers after the peace treaty or will the German government slowly turn him and the monarchy into figurehead like OTL British monarchy
In this timeline it has established the monarchs of the cp as quite fairly legitimised so i highly doubt any of them will so power. And especially not the kaiser if anything their soft power in goverment might grow such as turning the chancellor into the mere representation in goverment rather than who the kaiser chooses to help run the country. Though i can see the kaiser certainly pressed to reform the system such as three class voting so you would end up with a more democratic system just i really doubt it would touch the kaisers power. If anyone Attempts to then I suspect they are going to run into one hell of a road block.

tldr: while there may be reform In the voting system and already established democratic systems. It would be incredibly dubious this affects the kaisers own personal power and if anything it my grow.
 
Chapter Eleven- Russian Disintegration
Chapter 11: Russian Disintegration
"I tell you, my good man, it is nothing to worry about! Last year, we lost Poland, and we are still on our feet. I have every confidence that Cousin Willy will soon come to his senses."
-Tsar Nicholas II, upon hearing of the new German offensive.

"Breaking through the mountains of Italy was exhilarating, to be sure. And having the honour of leading my men in the Kaiserschlacht was a moment I shall proudly remember for the rest of my days. But speaking as a tactician, my service in the Oststorm of that last summer was the most fruitful time of my career up to that point. It was in the Baltics that the skeleton of the Strumtruppenkorps was laid down. We have been building upon that foundation for ten years now."
- Oskar von Hutier, in a 1926 interview for the Deutsche Zeitung.

"Ever since donning
feldgrau in that golden summer of 1914, I had known that I was serving the German people, and there was nothing better than that. But as my platoon trooped through the Baltic plains that hot summer, watching the Russians flee before us... I had never known such happiness."
-
Corporal Adolf Hitler, Imperial German Army.


The Anglo-German armistice left Russia standing alone, with the Central Powers eager to knock her down. After all, no major action had occurred in the East since last September. That both sides had been content to remain quiet throughout the tumultuous first half of 1916 indicated Russian weakness- surely a stronger Russia would’ve tried to divert Germans from Verdun or the Kaiserschlacht?

Fighting three nations on a nine-hundred-mile front had left Russia badly overextended. 1914 had brought not a triumphant march to Berlin, but disaster in East Prussia and a bloody advance in Galicia. 1915 had seen the Gorlice-Tarnow debacle and Romanian betrayal. And of course, the day-to-day fighting of trench warfare had taken its toll. By the summer of 1916, five million men and nearly all of the prewar professional soldiers were dead. Russia’s massive population helped contain the damage, but each new conscription class barely covered casualties. Losses were disproportionately high amongst officers, and by 1916, the rank and file outnumbered their superiors by 250:1. One major explanation for the lack of officers was outdated notions of chivalry and a desire to lead from the front; many heroic bayonet charges had ended with a German machine-gun bullet. The price for the gallantry of these men was that Russia's masses were led predominantly by men promoted from the ranks. Such men lacked the education and skill of professionals, many were illiterate, and few understood much about battlefield tactics on a large scale. All too often, they simply threw men forward into machine-gun fire, further exacerbating the country’s manpower problems. In terms of equipment, the Russian Army was the worst off of any major combatant. Monthly rifle production was less than a third of what it ought to have been, while rations and uniforms weren’t as plentiful as they ought to have been. Increasingly, hungry Russian troops turned to plundering from the locals, which did little to endear them to anyone. Some officers tried to put a stop to the practice, but more shrugged and took a leg of unofficial chicken for themselves.

All this to say, when Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff looked east, they saw a land of opportunity- the chance for them to strike the final, war-winning blow and to even the score with Falkenhayn.

The Warsaw Conference of 15 June saw Hindenburg, Ludendorff, and Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf meet to discuss a plan for a war-winning offensive in the East. Hindenburg and Ludendorff envisaged a strike using German troops in the centre of the front aimed at Minsk, while the Austro-Hungarians put all their weight into western Ukraine. It was expected that the Romanians would attempt something in Bessarabia, as well. However, transferring troops from the West would take time, and the warm summer months- prime campaign season!- was ticking away. There was a general feeling that they could end the war in 1916, and that not to do so would be a shame costing good German lives. It was then that Kaiser Wilhelm came up with a typically grandiose scheme which he was sure would terrify the Russians.

As mentioned in the previous chapter, the Kaiser had a penchant for sea battles, finding in them the excitement sorely lacking in trench warfare. He was convinced that it was Jutland above all which had persuaded Asquith to surrender, and hoped to replicate the achievement with Russia. Following the Anglo-German ceasefire, he ordered Admiral Scheer to move the High Seas Fleet to Danzig, whence it was to patrol the eastern Baltic for any Russian ships. Personally, Admiral Scheer was lukewarm about the idea; his ships had taken a beating at Jutland, and he didn’t have overwhelming material superiority. If his luck ran out, things could go very wrong, he gently impressed on his sovereign. Wilhelm would have none of it. Scheer would seek a glorious battle of decision, and he would win it, or else the Kaiser would find a new admiral of the High Seas Fleet. Thus, Scheer put to sea on the twenty-third of June. Russian intelligence, for once, was up to scratch, and Vice-Admiral A.I. Nepenin activated battle alert shortly before three PM. Not only that, he detected Scheer first, a few miles west of the small Baltic island of Saaremaa. The battleship Petropavlovsk opened fire at 7:20 PM, and before long the entire Baltic Fleet was pounding away. Furious at being caught off-guard, Scheer steamed southwest, hoping to strain the Russian coal supplies. As at Jutland, both sides pounded at each other during the chase, during which the Germans lost the torpedo boat G.38, but damaged the Russian torpedo boats Gavriil and Orfei. Tellingly, the German warships weren’t in one big column; instead they moved in clusters of three or four. This not only gave them more mobility than the line of Russian ships stretching for miles, it enabled them to concentrate fire better. After half an hour, Scheer abruptly halted the retreat and turned his ships around so the broadside guns were able to pound the tar out of the Russians. The firepower thus unleashed had devastating effects on Nepenin’s fleet, crippling the leading battleship Imperator Pavel I in four minutes. While the Pavel I’s captain desperately beat a retreat to safety, the other Russian ships clumsily tried to rearrange their formation- not a simple thing to do in a line stretching for well over a mile. Captains at the back were blind to what was going on, and too many were hesitant to advance into heavy gunfire.

Vice-Admiral Nepenin, the man who led the bulk of the Russian Baltic Fleet to a watery grave.
admiraladrianinepenin.jpeg


While Vice-Admiral Nepenin desperately tried to rearrange his fleet, the German ships- grouped in packets of three and four for this precise reason- moved around the flank of the long Russian column. Nepenin had committed a serious blunder which Scheer was now trying to exploit. Assuming that the Germans would amass their fleet in a long column, he’d put his battleships up front, close together- the hope being that they could concentrate their fire on the first target they saw and the density of firepower thus created could blast it to smithereens. However, Nepenin had assumed that it would be his ships, not Scheer’s, who could deploy their broadsides first. Thus, the top-heaviness of his fleet had none of the effects he’d hoped for, while presenting as daring a German commander as Scheer an opportunity. Packets of German ships now began blasting away at the “neck” of the Russian column, cutting the battleships off from the light cruisers and torpedo boats. Now, Scheer set about slaying his encircled enemy. From 8:15 to 8:40 PM, the dreadnoughts slugged it out like dinosaurs fighting over a kill. Both sides took horrible losses, but after twenty minutes, the German advantage in quality made itself felt. His flagship having suffered grievous damage, Nepenin gave the order to retreat at 8:40. Given that German warships surrounded him, escape would not be a simple task. A breakthrough by force would be needed. Thus, the Russian vice-admiral gave the order to concentrate all fire on the German SMS Nassau, which was blocking the northeast route home. One may pity the crew of the Nassau, the first German dreadnought ever, who took seven and a half minutes of blisteringly heavy fire before a shell hit the armour protecting the magazine. A great fireball consumed her at 8:48 PM, killing all but seven of her crew. However, destroying the Nassau and opening up a route home was a Pyrrhic victory if ever there was one. For every moment the Russians spent on pounding the Nassau was a moment the rest of the German fleet could fire at will with minimal opposition. The Slava and Tsarevich were both destroyed, with virtually all the other battleships suffering grievous damage. Cognisant that he too had suffered, Scheer was content to let the rest of the Baltic Fleet’s battleships limp home and turned on the terrified smaller Russian ships. Only the cloak of darkness falling over the blood-filled waters- making the Germans wary of hitting one another by mistake- let some of the Russian cruisers and torpedo boats flee. (1) When Vice-Admiral Nepenin dropped anchor at Petrograd shortly after lunch on the 24th, he brought back five battleships, ten cruisers, and fourteen torpedo boats, all of which were badly in need of repair. When a servant woke Tsar Nicholas up from his afternoon nap with news of the debacle, he quipped, “Well, we shall have to get our fish from elsewhere, eh? Never mind. Now don’t disturb me, I need my beauty sleep!”

Unfortunately, the Central Powers would interrupt more of his naps in the weeks to come.

The Battle of Saaremaa had kept both sides distracted long enough for Hindenburg and Ludendorff to scrounge up the forces they needed for their big push. It wasn’t easy- Falkenhayn, who was after all their nominal superior, had no intention of seeing his best men bloodied for the sake of his rivals- but by the start of July, he had moved some 25 divisions from west to east. Amongst these was a division commanded by Oskar von Hutier, comprised of men who’d fought at Bardonecchia, during the Kaiserschlacht, and at Third Ypres. This elite division had spent the past weeks polishing up on what was fast becoming dubbed Hutierkrieg (2). Their commander, boasting to his men that they would take the Russians by storm, soon began referring to them as Sturmtruppen- the name stuck, and even today, the Sturmtruppenkorps is the most prestigious branch of the Imperial German military, and the one which sees combat more than any other. (3). Now, it was about to get its baptism of fire, placed in the front line just outside occupied Riga. And, on the tenth of July 1916, following a hurricane barrage, they were the first to leap over the top and into the Russian lines. Close to six hundred thousand of their countrymen followed suit.

All across the Eastern Front, 10 July brought a great Central Powers advance. In the north, the Germans focussed their attention on the unoccupied northern Baltics. Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff hoped to advance to the gates of Petrograd and scare Tsar Nicholas into making peace. The Sturmtruppen cut around the still-Russian town of Dvinsk, isolating it as they moved north. Slower units encircled the town and its four-division garrison, choking it for ten days before the Russian commander threw up his hands. Elsewhere, the advance was even more rapid, with the Kaiser’s armies penetrating into Latvia at a rate of three miles a day- a phenomenal speed by Great War standards. Although the German Army of 1916 still relied upon hooves and human feet- motorised transport still a long way in the future- this consistent advance took them far, and by the second week of August, they were across the Estonian border. Russian numerical superiority wasn’t enough to halt the German attacks- when half the men against you have no gun, they scarcely count. Harried day after day by the Germans, ill-fed, lacking rifles, and drying out in the baking July sun, many Russians threw their hands up, content to sit the rest of the war out in a PoW camp. Many of the Russian defenders were ethnic Balts fighting on their homeland; to them, the advancing Germans more often than not represented liberators from two centuries of oppressive Russian rule. Desertions to the German ranks became common amongst these men. However, there was no mass desertion a la francaise. Generally, Russian troops obeyed orders and fought for hours at a time, or gave their lives in futile counterattacks. Not that it did them much good; Rival (Tallinn) (4) on the Baltic fell on the seventh of September, after which the Germans triumphantly settled into quarters. Two months of fighting had carried them to within two hundred miles of Petrograd, and there was a feeling amongst the men that they could enjoy Christmas dinner in the Tsar’s palace.

To the south, Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf awaited his moment of glory. Despite being the most senior officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army, he hadn’t had many in the war- other men had won the successes of Gorlice-Tarnow and the Serbian campaign. (5) Now, he had the bulk of the Austro-Hungarian Army at his command, and he was bloody well going to make the most of it. While France fell to pieces and England tried to pull her men home, five and a half million men (6) of every nationality had mustered under the Imperial banner in Galicia. Aside from men on internal security duties and holding down Serbia, every soldier in the Dual Monarchy was crammed into these trenches, waiting for the whistle to blow. Even if not all loved their country- more than a few Hungarians pondered why they were shipping their harvests to Vienna year after year- they weren’t about to desert at the eleventh hour. Austria-Hungary’s equipment situation was imperfect, but every man had a rifle when he went over the top. The Dual Monarchy had been through a tremendous deal, and it was about to reap what it had been sowing ever since those bullets went into Franz Ferdinand two years ago.

A rough map of the situation before and after the Oststorm, just prior to the September Revolution.
easternfront1916.png



Conrad’s men were stretched out on a front from the Pripet Marshes to the Romanian border, close to four hundred miles. That was no accident; since they were theirs was the largest Central Powers army on the Eastern Front, Hindenburg and Ludendorff had assigned them most of the front, so as to let their own forces concentrate in one area. For that matter, second-rate Austro-Hungarian troops were mostly responsible for garrisoning conquered lands and cities. Conrad took advantage of his crushing numerical superiority by launching an offensive on a very wide front- from the Pripet Marshes to the Romanian border. It was an ambitious goal, but with 5.5 million men, it seemed plausible. (7) Thus, the Dual Monarchy’s men leapt out of the trenches in the small hours of the tenth.

Despite Conrad’s optimism, his men were not the Sturmtruppen, and the first day of Austro-Hungarian operations didn’t go as smoothly as planned. Too often, unskilled officers who might or might not have shared a common language with the men ran out of ideas as soon as they came across a machine-gun, relying on human-wave tactics to overrun the Russians. While these operations worked, they weren’t particularly effective, and by the end of the first day, 13,000 Austro-Hungarians had been killed all across the front for an average gain of a mile. When the Austro-Hungarian generalissimo heard these statistics in the commandeered mansion in Lemberg serving as headquarters, he shrugged and declared that “the little Russians will get tired eventually. All our men need to do is keep their spirits up and be brave.”

Inspiring words if ever there were any.

However, there was a grain of truth in what Conrad said. Alexei Brusilov knew that he was fighting on a front from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and that the Central Powers outnumbered him by more than 2:1. (8) Russia lacked a substantial strategic reserve, meaning that any Central Powers breakthrough could roam nearly at will behind the lines. Thus, it was better to give ground than have the line pulled taut and snap. On 13 July, Brusilov pulled out of Rovno, having stripped it bare first, and elsewhere made plans to abandon the strip of Galicia still flying the Russian flag. Russian arms had more success to the north, where the Pripet Marshes provided a safe northern flank. Forced to ford river after river and wade through endless swamp, Austro-Hungarian troops didn’t harry the Russians very hard in the north, and Conrad is said to have sarcastically questioned whether there was even a war on there. As the baking summer of 1916 ground on, though, Brusilov found it increasingly hard to defy the laws of attrition. Despite having made strides in that area since taking command in the area, the Russian commander found that logistics- always his country’s Achilles heel- were biting his men. Once July turned into August, ammunition started drying up, while gunners had to start rationing their shells. Without endless ammunition, machine-gunners couldn’t do their deadly work, meaning that more and more Austro-Hungarian human wave attacks got through. Men with rifle trouble couldn’t get replacements, while the supply of rations to the front became erratic, forcing soldiers to leave the frontlines to plunder. Clearly, this wasn’t an army that could stop 5.5 million men. Thus, biting the bullet, Brusilov pulled back. While he had intended only for a minor withdrawal, few men wanted to stop running once they started, and the Austro-Hungarian advance began picking up steam. Naturally, Conrad took all the credit, boasting that his aggressive tactics and skill would carry his men to the Dnieper! Rovno fell on the first of September, while the Russian-occupied sliver of Galicia fell days later. By the middle of the month, the Russian Seventh and Ninth Armies had taken a severe mauling and were retreating into western Ukraine. Conrad’s greatest venture had been a surprising success.

From left to right: Romanian Field marshal Constantin Prezan, overwhelmed Russian general Alexei Brusilov, and Austro-Hungarian supremo Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf. Both Prezan and Brusilov date from around the time of the Oststorm.
Screen Shot 2020-09-12 at 7.37.52 pm.png


South of the Austro-Hungarians, the small Romanian Army was making its presence felt. They had efficiently replaced their losses since joining the war, and had approximately 650,000 men under arms in the summer of 1916. Since their offensive against Russia in the autumn of 1915 which brought them into the war, Bucharest had refrained from serious offensives, and thus the Bessarabian front had bogged down like the West. But when received a summons to meet Hindenburg and Ludendorff in June, Romanian Field Marshal Constantin Prezan knew he would soon send his men over the top once more. Thus, the Romanians clambered out of their trenches on 10 July into the machine-gun fire. Like their Austro-Hungarian counterparts, they lacked the sophistication of the German Army, and thus the attack saw heavy casualties amongst the attackers for little gain. None of Bessarabia’s major towns fell in the first month of fighting, and it was only the pressing demand for forces elsewhere which enabled General Prezan to advance. The fact remained that compared to Germany and Austria-Hungary, Romania wasn’t such a threat to the Russians. Hindenburg and Conrad could menace Petrograd and push into western Ukraine; the most Romania could hope to do was steal fifteen thousand square miles of worthless dust. Thus, the Russian Ninth Army came last for supplies and reinforcements. King Ferdinand’s boasts to the contrary, it was logistics and manpower which enabled the Romanian Army to gain the upper hand in Bessarabia. Nor was their advance as rapid as a more modern army’s would’ve been- they hadn’t yet conquered all of the province by the middle of September. However, on 14 September 1916, every Central Powers soldier on the Eastern Front received some shocking news.

Revolution had come to Petrograd, and the Tsar looked to be in danger of losing his throne.


  1. Naval warfare isn’t my speciality. If this whole battle is too implausible, please say so and tell me what’s wrong with it.
  2. From now on, I will be using this term to describe the infiltration tactics practised at OTL Riga and Caporetto, as well as TTL’s Bardonecchia.
  3. It is viewed by TTL’s Germans in the same way OTL Americans view the Marine Corps.
  4. Many thanks to @Snowstalker for pointing this one out!
  5. That said, there’s a flip side- like Cadorna, he isn’t seen as a bumbling idiot ITTL, either.
  6. IOTL, Wikipedia says that there were 7.8 million by October of 1917. If the Dual Monarchy has a total of six and a half million by the summer of 1916, with friendly Italy and Romania, if a million are used for internal security/occupying Serbia and other areas, that gives us 5.5 million for the East. A rough number, but I hope the point is clear.
  7. Remember that Brusilov launched his offensive with only a million and a half.
  8. Some very, very rough calculations have given me 6.675 million Central Powers troops altogether against 3,200,000 Russians. If these numbers are too far from the truth, please tell me and I’ll retcon! Really, please- they were the result of 2 hours of searching and some educated guesses and I don’t trust them a bit!
Comments?
 
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I dont think the Germans are going to allow a communist revolution to succeed in Russia after not intervening in France causing France to be Syndicalist/communist since that would leave Germany in between two communist/Syndicalist nations.
 
I can't claim to have looked up the specifics of the Russian fleet of this era (and for that matter the speeds reported in easily accessible sources are often not reliable), but by reputation Russian battleships were slow, in addition to their other numerous defects, while the German ships were generally not handicapped in that respect. So I wonder if you may have overestimated how many Russian ships would be able to escape.
 
Line of battle is the usual and effective formation with good reason. Ships travel in squadrons in a more or less box formation, then deploy into line so that ships can all bring their broadsides to bear on the enemy. Now if you can cross the enemy's T--bring your battle line across the front of his--you can hammer his leading ships with full broadsides while the enemy can only reply with the forward guns.

Line of battle gives a good chance for the losing fleet to withdraw in good order.

Then there's the dangerous option of ordering "General Chase," allowing ships to engage independently. That can result in a great victory--or a fiasco.

Good stuff :)
 
A small nitpick you cannot station the HSF in Danzig as it is way too small. A larger one, the whole HSF would mop up the ocean floor with the Russian baltic fleet.
 
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